In an interesting turn of events this week the Feds have apparently taken down several Tor network sites including Silk Road 2.0 and arrested several culprits, including Blake Benthall who was allegedly behind the operation of Silk Road 2.0.
According to our favorite source Krebs On Security, Silk Road 2.0 was in operation since about December 2013, and was a replacement for the Silk Road black market that had been previously taken down by the FBI. Silk Road 2.0 was yet another black market website hosting a thriving online hub for drug sales, weapon sales, stolen credit card numbers and other identification documents, hacking services and tools, and more.
The Tor network is a highly secured anonymous network that has a very high level of crime due to its relatively untrackable and untraceable nature. However, the Feds were able to take down a number of sites this past week despite the large measures that the site owners went to to preserve their anonymity.
According to the article by Krebs On Security, a Homeland security agent was able to infiltrate the Silk Road 2.0 network from the very start, worming his way up to work in the creation as well as customer support for the site. It started as a forum invitation and eventually the undercover agent was given administrator rights. After some time a server in an unnamed foreign country was suspected of hosting the Silk Road 2.0 site, and authorities from that country were able to image the server and forensically analyzed the data leading to the arrest and takedown of the site.
Benthall’s biggest mistake may have been using his own personal email to register the servers used for the Silk Road 2.0 marketplace. In the complaint against Benthall, an undercover agent who worked the case said that “based on a review of records provided by the service provider for the Silk Road 2.0 Server, I have discovered that the server was controlled and maintained during the relevant time by an individual using the email account firstname.lastname@example.org.”
It’s an interesting story and we highly encourage our readers to read the full rundown. It’s a good window into what goes on in the seamy underbelly of the internet and just how difficult it can be to track down hackers and other online criminals.